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Palestinians say won't be 'blackmailed' after Trump threat

The Palestinians rely heavily on international aid, with many analysts, including Israelis, saying such assistance helps maintain stability in a volatile region

AFP | PTI  |  Ramallah 

israel, palestine, jerusalem
Palestinian protesters stand near a burning barricade in the West Bank city of Ramallah. Photo: Reuters.

Palestinian leaders said today they will not be "blackmailed" after US threatened to cut aid worth more than $300 million annually, his latest provocative move that could upturn years of careful diplomacy.

Relations between Trump's and the Palestinians were already tense after the US president's recognition of as Israel's capital last month.

The December 6 announcement concerning the disputed city led Palestinian to say the could no longer play any role in the peace process.

Trump's threat in a tweet yesterday to try to force the Palestinians into negotiations led to further outrage, though Israeli ministers lauded the move.

The Palestinians rely heavily on aid, with many analysts, including Israelis, saying such assistance helps maintain stability in a volatile region.

"We pay the Palestinians HUNDRED OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS a year and get no appreciation or respect," Trump tweeted.

"With the Palestinians no longer willing to talk peace, why should we make any of these massive future payments to them?"

It was not immediately clear whether Trump was threatening all of the budget, worth $319 million in 2016, according to figures.

The has long provided the with much-needed budgetary support and security assistance, as well as an additional $304 million for UN programmes in the and

receives more than $3 billion in military aid per year from

Abbas's said they were not against negotiations, but that talks should be "based on laws and resolutions that have recognised an independent Palestinian state with east as its capital".

"is the eternal capital of the state of Palestine and it is not for sale for gold or billions," told AFP.

Senior Palestinian official said in a statement that "we will not be blackmailed".

"Trump has sabotaged our search for peace, freedom and justice," she said.

"Now he dares to blame the Palestinians for the consequences of his own irresponsible actions!"

However, several Israeli ministers voiced support for Trump, with the country's right-wing government having seized on the US president's support to push ahead with initiatives seen as dealing further blows to remaining hopes for a two-

Culture and Miri Regev, from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud party, said "you cannot on the one hand receive $300 million in American aid per year and at the same time close the door on negotiations".

"We are dealing with a president who says what he thinks clearly and does not resort to diplomatic convolutions that mean nothing," Regev told Israel's

Trump came to office boasting that he could achieve the "ultimate deal" that secures peace in the Middle East, something that has eluded presidents since the late 1960s.

For most of the past half century the has been seen as the indispensable -- if sometimes imperfect -- of the peace process.

Trump's actions are likely to cast that further in doubt.

He has heaped pressure on Palestinians to do a deal, threatening to close the de facto "embassy" in in addition to recognising Israel's contested claim on Jerusalem and now threatening aid.

Efforts to harness improved Arab-relations to push a peace deal have been at least temporarily derailed by Trump's Jerusalem recognition, breaking with decades of US policy.

The decision sparked almost universal diplomatic condemnation and deadly protests in the

It also prompted Abbas -- 82 years old and facing the prospect of entering the history books as the leader who "lost Jerusalem" -- to cancel a planned meeting with

Christian and Muslim leaders in took similar steps.

Pence was forced to delay a December visit to the until later this month, and aides on Tuesday rejected rumours of further delays.

"As we've said all along, the is going to the in January," said Pence

"We're finalising details and will announce specifics of the full trip in the coming days.

First Published: Wed, January 03 2018. 18:15 IST